Learfield, IMG College Agree To Create a More Dynamic Service Provider

Learfield, a provider of integrated marketing solutions in college sports and IMG College that is known in sports, events, media, and fashion, form a definitive agreement under which Learfield and IMG College, the collegiate division of IMG, will merge to create a more dynamic service provider in the increasingly competitive sports and entertainment marketing landscape. Learfield and IMG, which is a subsidiary of WME | IMG, are both privately held companies, and financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are excited about partnering with IMG College, and believe that this combination will enable a better, more innovative future for collegiate athletic programs and their fans,” says Greg Brown, President and CEO of Clearfield. “By combining, we will be better positioned to champion the success of collegiate athletics in the years ahead through the development of new services and offerings that will provide greater benefits to our clients and brand partners than either company could do alone. Together, we will more efficiently assist schools in identifying and implementing methods to derive maximum value for their rights and sponsorship deals in light of greater competition with professional sports leagues and other entertainment options.”

“This merger will bolster the opportunities available for brands across the sports landscape and deliver greater value for our partner schools through enhanced services in areas including data, ticketing, and retail insight,” says Patrick Whitesell, Co-CEO of WME | IMG. “We are confident that together we will better enable our partner institutions to generate much-needed revenue and look forward to furthering our investment in this space and generating enhanced value for collegiate sports.”

IMG and Atairos, which owns Learfield and is an independent private company focused on supporting growth-oriented businesses across a wide range of industries, will retain ownership of the new entity. Silver Lake, a strategic partner and long-term investor in WME | IMG, will acquire a minority stake in the combined business through a new capital deployment.

“Our organizations are excited to be long-term partners alongside IMG in this unique company,” says Michael Angelakis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Atairos, and Egon Durban, Managing Partner of Silver Lake. “The management team of the combined entity has an exceptional 30+ year track record of growth and developing premium offerings to serve its collegiate and brand partners. We look forward to supporting the company’s continued growth and innovation under the team’s leadership.”

Strategic Benefits 

  • Positions the combined company to better serve its clients in the dynamic and competitive sports marketing landscape: The combined company will build on each company’s resources, relationships, and experience to provide enhanced services, more consistent promotions, technological innovation, and greater economic opportunities to their partners, including collegiate athletic departments, institutions, and brands. Compared to professional sports leagues, college sports programs have only just begun to pursue new opportunities by using data to better understand their customers and anticipate their needs. As such, the companies are also planning substantial investments to expand the range and depth of services offered to their collegiate partners.
  • Ensures collegiate sports are as competitive as ever in the pursuit of rights and sponsorships: The combined company will offer a comprehensive suite of services, including representation and management of collegiate multimedia rights and licensing, to provide athletic departments with a valuable alternative to efficiently handle their marketing operations in-house, through their athletic conferences, or in partnership with well-financed firms and professional sports teams. Further, as competition continues to increase with professional sports leagues – including the NFL, NBA, and others – and the broader entertainment industry, the combined company will enable collegiate athletic programs to realize even greater value.
  • Delivers significant benefits and opportunities for employees: The majority of Learfield and IMG College’s partner schools are serviced by offices and employees located on or near campuses across the country. As a result, combining the two companies and expanding capabilities and service offerings will protect existing jobs while creating new opportunities and delivering significant benefits for current and future employees as part of a more diverse and faster-growing company.

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